There are several reasons this post has taken more than a minute. My son, Remy, was born April 5th at 9:42pm. Woot!
Fair warning – I am going to talk about medical stuff that is kind of gross to some people. If you don’t like knowing the details of medical procedures, reactions to such procedures, and the details of childbirth – skip the rest of this post. This is your “spoiler” warning (or trigger warning).
I had a routine doctor’s appointment on the 4th – my wedding anniversary no less – and my blood pressure was high. It had been creeping up over the past few weeks, but it finally hit the threshold where the doctor was “concerned.” When I arrived at the doctor’s office it was something like 147/82. This isn’t “oh my god she’s dying” level, but since “good” blood pressure is the 110’s/60s (naturally I tend to run ~116-122/~65), this IS high.
So the doctor wanted to send me over to the hospital to get tested. If they drew my blood and stuff in the doctor’s office it would probably take 24-hours to process. The hospital could process in way less time (like 1 hour). They wanted to make sure my kidneys, liver, and heart were OK. So I go next door from the doctor’s office to the hospital and get admitted into Labor and Delivery (after sitting in the waiting room like an hour!)
One of the reasons I picked my specific OBGYN office is that they always have an OB and a midwife at the hospital, so I was able to see the midwife of my practice group. The OB actually came as well – apparently I am weird. What they described is that I have a “dimple” in my cervix that made it hard for them to tell how dilated I was. I wasn’t very dilated to begin with.
They decided to induce labor, so they started me on some medicine that would cause my body to start having contractions. I reacted very well (in a manner) to the drugs. I started having 2-3 contractions every 10 minutes. Not quite every 2-3 minutes, but very, very close. This is too much, but you can’t just undo a pill being processed in your body. They tried to flush it with IV fluids, but I spent the evening/night of the 4th having frequent contractions.
Now I have an idea of my pain tolerance at least. It was one of the things I was scared/curious about going into this process. Each individual contraction wasn’t intolerable pain. Better than period cramps for me. But the lack of break or relief…. that got to be hard to handle.
The morning of the 5th the new midwife on call for the day came in (they go 7am-7am). She was more experienced than the midwife on Thurs and she said she had two suggestions. Keep me on the drugs I was on until evening and see if I dilate any more “on my own” (I was now just a tiny bit dilated) or do what’s called a cook’s catheter which should get me to 5cm (halfway) in about 12 hours. I elected to go with option number two.
Once again, I responded very well to medical induction. Around noon I had to pee and when I came back to the bed I sat down and it felt like I wet the bed! That didn’t make sense so I called for the nurse. My water had broken. The midwife came to check on me. In just over 3 hours I had dilated 5cm – I was now at least 6cm dilated.
The catheter was removed and they started me on the classic induction drug called pitocin. They put the IV that gives it on the lowest setting and it still punched my uterus like a mac truck. I was having strong contractions now every 2-3 minutes minimum. They put me on TWO fluid IV’s (one with sugar for the calories and one just a saline drip) at the highest levels to try to “thin out” the pitocin’s strength on my body. By 2pm I was ready for the epidural. My exact words to the nurse were “I’m ready to talk pain management options.”
The epidural insertion was probably actually the worst part of labor up to this point. The numbing agent made me vomit (I hate throwing up) and it takes 5-7 minutes to get the epidural in (I don’t know why). You have to try to curl up around your stomach (to extend your spine where they insert the epidural point) – your stomach which has a little human of bones inside it. So I’m trying to curl up as tight as I can, trying NOT to move (as they stick a damn needle in my spine) around contractions, and throwing up. Oh and when I began vomiting they had to withdraw the needle they had started and start all over. So yeah – this was kind of awful.
Now, once the epidural kicked in – it was a different kind of experience. I could kind of feel contractions, but not like I had before. Instead of pain they were almost a tingling – like your foot being asleep only in the uterus. The midwife checked me again at about 8pm and I was 10cm dilated- this means it’s time to get the baby out. My body is ready.
It takes a surprisingly short time to get the room ready for me to push. This shouldn’t have surprised me – there are plenty of women who show up and are so far into labor the staff has to move fast. So in probably 15 minutes they had all kinds of stuff up and ready and it was time to push.
This is honestly probably (from my perspective) the boring part of the story. I was super-focused on such a tiny perspective of my body and my world. Everything – even the minute or two between contractions was focused on pushing. The nurse counted how long I should push and I focused on those numbers. I felt his head against my pelvis. I felt when he was crowning. The midwife did end up having to do an episiotomy (an incision made in the perineum — the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus) – she told me afterwards she has done over 1,000 deliveries and less than 2 dozen episiotomies- so she really, really only does them when absolutely necessary. I believe her.
It felt like forever until I held my son. I had to push out the placenta (it was apparently “perfect”). The nurses cleaned him and pricked his ankle for blood. My husband got to hold him. I don’t know what else they did before I finally got to hold him. I was told it would be “magical” – mostly it was overwhelming at that moment. Not in a good way either. It wasn’t positive emotions – it was just tidal. I was suddenly terrified.
Taking care of “me” (pregnancy) was the easy part. I’m old enough and wise enough to know the hard part was beginning. And it was terrifying. He was so tiny and fragile (and huge – how the hell did he FIT inside me??) and helpless.
Hence the past two weeks I have been distracted. Sleep is a premium. All kinds of visitors. And feeding every 2-3 hours.